CUH Update – March 2011: Ramping up

March 21st, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Narcissus in Soest Garden

We all await the arrival of the most promising time of year as the garden slowly wakes up and showcases it early season splendor. March is when bulbs burst into bloom, spring ephemerals shyly shine and the winter shrubs are putting forth yet another splendid show of unrivaled color and, in most cases, outstanding fragrance.

Trillium chloropetalum in Bed 7 of the Soest Garden

Azara microphylla in full bloom scenting the Fragrance Garden with its chocolate/vanilla perfume.

It’s all  such a great distraction from  the financial woes and the economic downturn we’re all facing. Recent news of budget cuts and even threats to potentially eliminate the Arboretum from the University have caused us to be a little more on edge. Here’s a link to an article written by Valerie Easton on her blog about this situation. It’s really quite unsettling and as a gardener here, while we’re suppose to worry about a very busy spring season ahead, we’re all wondering if we’ll even have jobs come July. We’ve basically been learning to work with what little resources we’ve got and simply trying to stay motivated to get as much work done as possible.

Edmonds Community College students enjoy the sunshine as they install container plantings in the Soest Garden

Stepping back from our multiple tasks and looking out into the landscape, we’re simply in awe. This time of year has the potential to bring out the joy of what makes our profession so wonderful and unique. Bring out the sun and spirits are high!

We had the pleasure of hosting a group from Edmonds Community College’s Horticulture Department who dressed up some containers here at the Center for Urban Horticulture. In collaboration with garden designer, Wendy Welch and her fabulous container gardening class, we were treated with sunshine and an opportunity to see these young garden artists at work as they implement one of their designs as a series for our containers in the Soest Garden.

Here’s a note from Wendy about her student’s work:

“For their final project of the winter quarter Horticulture students from EDCC’s Container Gardening class designed and planted three containers in the courtyard at CUH. The long list of requirements for their designs included, a strong “winter picture”, at least one main element that is attractive year round, and at least two years of viability as a combination. All 22 students presented designs and then voted on the one they felt was the strongest. Jill Nunemaker’s design with Acer circinatum ‘Pacific Fire’, Sorbaria sorbifolia ‘Sem’, warm-colored cultivars of Heuchera and trailing Kininikinnick, won the vote by a landslide. Next years class will evaluated the success of these pots over time, as can all of you.”

Jill Nunemaker with her design, which includes a striking vine maple Acer circinatum 'Pacific Fire'

Seattle Garden Club also took part in a work party as members helped out in planting, transplanting and mulching within the Fragrance Garden. The site is now home to a few new plants with a few more still to come as we define the space a little more and more summer color will be more obvious with several perennials included this spring.

March is also the time we start to focus on WEEDS!!!! The gradual rise in temperatures and increased day length means the prolific germination of weed seeds that have been resting all winter. In a valiant effort in reducing our use and need for chemicals, we’ve been experimenting with various treatments such as torching (basically burning a plant with a flame) and a horticultural grade vinegar. We’ve seen signs of effectiveness, but we just need a few clearer and sunnier days to really see it take effect.

Anything we can do now to get on top of the big push of spring is crucial. With two gardeners left to oversee CUH grounds, it’ll be more challenging than ever, but everyone seems to be having patience and accepting the fact that some areas aren’t tended to right away, but for the most part, the gardens are looking great and visitors have been so pleased and enchanted by it all!

Chin up!

Riz

Share

CUH Update – February 2011: Show Time

February 22nd, 2011 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Apologies for the delay in getting an update posted. We’ve had several little projects we’re trying to complete and we are getting numerous volunteer applications, which we have been going through and contacting interested individuals who are interested in helping us out in grounds.

Late winter brings with it a lot of planting and transplanting projects and our major one so far this year has been the relocation of an established specimen of Edgeworthia crysantha from the McVay courtyard to a new location just north of the Miller Library.

Transplanted Edgeworthia in a bed just North of the Merrill Hall

Like its close relative, Daphne, Edgeworthia resents being moved around and the fact that it’s also recovering from the hard freeze of last November with just a few buds remaining to open, we did our best to get the largest rootball possible and replanted it immediately into its new location. Cross your fingers!

With more severe winter cold predicted to come our way again, we are keeping our eye out on a few plants that could suffer. Obviously, Edgeworthia is on that list along with the two large Osmanthus we have in the Fragrance Garden. Our poor Daphne bholua doesn’t deserve another hit; this poor plant hasn’t flowered for us in three winters.


Then there are the Azara microphylla, which are just starting to flower that could be hit with cold and the remaining buds zapped and our massive Cordyline australis on the south side of Issacson Hall is already a sorry looking site. So, basically, anything spectacularly fragrant is being monitored.  Hehe

Our first accessioned plant for 2011 has been planted here at CUH in a large Chinese container donated by a special donor that once held a beautiful cascading Japanese maple, but when it became too troublesome to keep up the watering and the foliage would crisp up in the summer sun, we had to replace it.

Detail of the fierce branches of Citrus ‘Flying Dragon’

The maple has moved into a new home in the Woodland Garden over at Washington Park Arboretum and, for awhile, the pot was empty until it was decided that we would seek out a specimen of Poncirus (Citrus) trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’, a hardy citrus, to fill that void. Bloom River Nursery down in Oregon was able to provide us with a standardized specimen that’s been trained for ten years. It now graces the pot with its exquisite and somewhat sinister looking branches. It is highly unusual and will definitely be a conversation piece. Now we have to determine an under-planting so it doesn’t look so bare below.

Spring is definitely in the air when the sun decides to show itself and bulbs begin to bulge out of the ground and bloom their little heads of. Our annual show of yellow, cheerful, daffodils are just days away.

But for a real show, the 2011 Northwest Flower and Garden Show is finally here and UWBG has a most unusual booth this year thanks to our friends at Agua Verde Café and Paddle Club.

Rey Lopez generously donated a kayak for our display with one end cut off so it would stand and then it was planted up to make it look as if it had traveled to both sides of UWBG. Native flora and accessioned plants represented the Arboretum while more natives , including red-twig dogwoods and cattails complete with a “blue-tube” represent Foster Island and UBNA, while more exotic garden plants represented CUH.

Planted kayak that’s been through Lake Washington having collected materials from UWBG along the way

February is flying by so quickly with many activities taking place. The next few weeks should be spectacular (barring any serious cold snaps that will do certain plans in).

Cheers,

R

Share

CUH Update March 2010: “Wow! Things are early!”

March 5th, 2010 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

“It’s crazy!”, a visitor commented as I carefully weeded around emerging tulips and blooming lungworts busting out blooms and color we didn’t come to expect until later this month. It kind of has been crazy, but I told her to just enjoy and soak it all in.

I’m a bit irritated that I’m in the office writing this update when it’s bright and remarkably warm outside. haha. But it’s important that I get the word out to encourage EVERYONE to visit the Center for Urban Horticulture this month. So many of our winter blooming treasures are still present while a surge of spring bloomers are coming up WEEKS ahead of their usual bloom times.

The Magnolias (M. ‘Leonard Messel’) are in full peak bloom as are the daffodils in the Soest Garden. Our plant pick-of-the-month is a gorgeous kaufmanniana species tulip called ‘Ancilla’, also in the Soest (Bed 6). Of course, we have to keep in eye out for those plants just coming up that present themselves as a buffet to pesky snails and slugs that can dessimate a stand of plants. We use the safe and environmentally friendly slug bait called “Sluggo” to keep them at bay.

The Fragrance Garden is getting a bit of a makeover as we play “musical plants” and redesign the beds for a more cohesive appearance and to ensure that plants are appropriately placed for best growth. Come see the changes and watch this garden continue to evolve as you savor the wonderful aromas this landscape exudes. Right now, the daphnes take center stage and the vanilla/white chocolate scent of Azara microphylla is absolutely mouth-watering as it drifts in the warm spring air.

We have a new large specimen that has just recently been installed in the west entry of CUH. A mature Carpenteria californica was transplanted from the Aboretum and founds its new home here at CUH. It is somewhat gangly in appearance, but we hope it establishes well for us to prune it later on so it can continue to thrive. Carpenteria californica is a native of California, obviously, and it is an evergreen shrub with clouds of single white flowers that almost resemble species roses that bloom in early summer. It also has exquisite exfoliating bark and it is quite drought tolerant once established.

Our famous grove of Cornelian cherries (Cornus mas) is in full, bright-yellow bloom and seems to slow traffic along NE 41st. Street! Soon these will leaf out and charge the whole character of the landscape!

Please drop by soon as the spring show is well underway. I’d hate for you all to miss it!

Riz

Share